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Illinois fishing report April 3-10

April 03, 2008 at 05:10 PM

Week five of the statewide fishing report arrives along with more scattered rain and generally cold and miserable conditions in much of the state. But crappie are starting to bite and big bass reports are trickling in from across the state. Channel catfish are doing well on nightcrawlers. And things will only get better with a few days of warm weather. To be ready, learn more about lakes or rivers mentioned by clicking on the name of the body of water.

If you are a diehard angler who would like to submit fishing reports, please contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by calling (309) 686-3212. And please send in submissions for our wall-hanger category.


• Jefferey Todd Ohlman caught this largemouth bass March 31 on a plastic worm in a lake north of Chillicothe. The fish he said weighed 10 pounds, 2 ounces is pictured below.

Illinois Outdoors

• Greg Anderson had this week’s Chicago Sun-Times Fish of the Week, an 8-pound largemouth bass caught on a spinnerbait at about 4:15 p.m. last Friday (March 28) on Kinkaid Lake. The fish is pictured below.

Illinois Outdoors

• Jeff Hawks of Dixon caught a 9-pound walleye on March 22 while fishing the Rock River below the Dixon Dam with chartreuse twister tail. An 11-pounder also came out of the Rock River below the Oregon dam.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS North of Interstate 80

The transition from ice fishing to open-water fishing is taking some time as water remains cold. Warmer temperatures should help lake anglers. Best action so far has been in rivers, though recent rains have raised water levels and current and slowed that bite, as well.

Apple Canyon Lake
Not much to report yet with cool water temperatures here and at Lake Carroll and Lake Summerset says Tom Calam at Freeport Car Care Center (815-232-3337).

Lake Carlton
Lake thawed a few days ago and fishing has been slow says Vicky Peterson at the Morrison-Rockwood Bait Shop (815-772-3613), which opened April 1 and will be open daily 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Forest Preserve Lakes
Cook County
DeKalb County
DuPage County
Kane County
Kendall County
Lake County
McHenry County
Will County
• In DuPage County crappie are moving up into shallow waters in smaller bodies of water says Mike Warneck of Kolar Bait & Tackle in Carol Stream (630-272-0125). Bass biting on Rat-L-traps, jig-and-pig combos dragging slow on the bottom and roach minnows if wanting to use live bait.
• Spring trout season opens Saturday at Axehead, Belleau and Sag Quarry East (Cook County); Silver, Deep Quarry and Grove lakes (DuPage); Gebhard Woods State Park pond (Grundy); Bird Park Quarry and Rock Creek (Kankakee); Big Lake at Silver Springs SP (Kendall); Sand Lake at Illinois Beach SP and Banana Lake (Lake); Lake Atwood and Piscasaw Creek (McHenry); and Lake Milliken at Des Plaines Conservation Area (Will).
Click here for a Cook County Forest Preserves lake fishing forum.

Fox Chain O’ Lakes
Water high and flowing with a few ice chunks still floating around says Anthony Boris of Triangle Sports & Marine in Antioch (1-847-395-8013). Crappie biting on northern lakes in channels on small minnows with jig on bobber. Anglers fishing around bridge areas off shore for walleye using lare minnows off the bottom of the lakes.

Lake Michigan
• On the Chicago lakefront, cohos “best in five years” says Dennis of Henry’s (312-225-8538). Best locations Montrose and Belmont harbors. Perch slowing because of cohos. For up to the minute weather reports, call Ed McCain of Mik-Lurch (219-989-0575). McCain adds cohos and browns biting from Michigan City through Pastrick marina. Best to troll with bright colored rapalas going two miles per hour. All marinas are now open. Perch hitting on minnows, baby roaches and small fatheads inside Calumet River. Smallmouth bass best around warm water discharges. Big brown trout being caught “under the cover of darkness” at the Gary Lighthouse. Smelt season underway.

• Near Waukegan brown trout are best with some coho biting says The Salmon Stop (847-244-2525 or fishing hotline 847-244-9876). Frozen shiners are producing.

Pierce Lake
Still too much water and ice for open water fishing says Bob Rhodes at Rockford Bait (815-226-3515).

Shabbona Lake
Fishing started slow over the weekend says guide Jay Angel (815-739-7030), who noted a few crappie were the only notable catch. Water temperatures hovered around 39 degrees early in the week. Warmer weather should only help. And Angel reminds that Chris Kim caught his then-state record muskie on April 1, 1997. Not much action, but crappie and bluegill are biting on wasworms and crappie minnows says Allen Outboard and Bait (815-739-4522). Hoping for better weather for walleye tournament April 12.
• Park hours 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in April; May to October 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Click here for a Shabbona Lake fishing forum

Wolf Lake
Crappie best on minnows and waxworms says Vet’s (773-734-6720).

NORTH-CENTRAL ILLINOIS South of Interstate 80 and North of Interstate 72/U.S. Route 36

Warm weather is all that’s needed most places to get fishing going. While northern and southern Illinois have been pounded by rains, the western half of this area hs not been hit as hard. Crappie are starting most places and several big bass have been reported. Channel catfish are fair. Muskie should be on the move soon.

Banner Marsh
Crappie and bass best says Merle Keefer at Pekin Bass & Bow (309-347-3334). Crappie taking minnows, while bass biting on any swimming jigs, as well as jig and pig. Crappie still running on the small side says Adam Jaegle at Presley’s Outdoors in Bartonville (309-697-1193). But biologists had good crappie in their trap nets Thursday and saw muskie up to 45 inches long. Best muskie are in the Main and Bell’s Landing accesses.

Clinton Lake
Anglers catching catfish “big-time” on shad guts says Joanne Lowe of Mike’s Tackle World in Decatur (217-423-0730).  Crappie, white bass and walleye also being caught below the spillway.

Dawson Lake
No word yet on fishing. Moraine View Concession (309-724-8295) opens April 12.

Evergreen Lake
Crappie best bet in same areas as last week: near boat docks, Campground Cove, pump house and Six-Mile Creek Bay. Anglers reminded they can now keep only 15 crappie of 9 inches or longer. Saugeye should go soon, with a few reports of smaller fish in the past week.
Click here for up-to-date lake reports.
• Boat rentals and bait and tackle sales start April 12 at the boat rental facility. Hours will likely be 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends (after 8:30 a.m. on weekdays) with extended hours starting Memorial Day weekend. Plans are to sell nightcrawlers, minnows, waxworms and possibly leeches and some basic tackle.

Heidecke Lake
Lake opened to anglers on April 1 but high winds halted boaters. Dale Bowman reports bank anglers fared OK for hybrid stripers. Other species were tough. Boaters out last two days but fishing was very slow says Judy Lanier at Greybeards (815-941-1504), the bait shop on the lake. Be careful launching due to drawdown. Launches open at 6 a.m., bank fishing at 6:30 a.m.

Hennepin Canal
It’s cold but lot of fish being caught says Ann Downey at Northside Bait & Archery (309-852-4760) in Kewanee. Sauger, walleye, crappie and smallmouth all active. Use waxworms, large and small minnows and jig and lures.

LaSalle Lake
Fishing was great last weekend says guide Jay Angel (815-739-7030). Bass were found within a foot of the shore on the north and south shores of the warm arm. Soft plastic lures such as Yum Dingers or Senkos accounted for most of the bass. A few smallmouth bass are showing up along with the largemouths. Angel says look for water temperatures from 79 to 82 degrees for the best action. Striper fishing has been slow at best and blue cat fishing is fair. Guide Mike Lynch (708-655-7667) is catching some bigger blue cats. Mike Burgoni of Carol Stream is pictured below with a typical LaSalle largemouth caught last week with Angel. Lake now open seven days a week.
Click here for a LaSalle Lake fishing forum.

Illinois Outdoors

Powerton Lake
Cooling lake still closed to boaters due to ongoing work on the discharge. Lake is open to bank anglers daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Smallmouth bass biting says Merle Keefer at Pekin Bass & Bow (309-347-3334). Some catfish biting also but water temps need to come up for better catches says Tom Grider at Tom’s Riverside Bait & Tackle in Pekin (309-347-3793), who has reopened his shop.

Snakeden Hollow SFWA
Panfish fair but overall slower than normal for this time of year. Crappie better Wednesday afternoon in the mouths of coves in Victoria Lake. Walleye fair in McMaster Lake.

Spring Lake
Large numbers but small crappie biting on tube jigs at the south end says Larry Karnes at Larry’s Restaurant and Family Bar west of Manito (309-968-9500). Channel cats also biting on shad at the big turn on the south end. Bass still slow, with only one fish caught on the south end Sunday during a 42-angler tournament. Saturday on the north end was not much better with four legal fish reported in a tournament. Troy Galvin of Galvin’s Spring Lake Market (267-6538) hosts first Tuesday night bass tournament May 6.

Lake Storey
Crappie and bluegill best says Al Hayden of Al’s Sporting Goods in Galesburg (309-342-7776). Crappie slow but taking minnows. Bluegill biting on waxworms and crickets. A few reports of bass on pig and jig and catfish on chicken livers.

Strip Mines
Crappie and bluegill biting in small ponds says Al Hayden of Al’s Sporting Goods in Galesburg (309-342-7776). “Fish the sun,” in shallow waters says Hayden. Crappie biting better around brush on light minnows says Tim Presley of Presley’s Outdoors in Bartonville (309-697-1193). Bass taking spinnerbaits and chatterbaits in the afternoon. Target northern bays with shallow water, humps or ledges that come into shallow water. Bluegill slowed this week.

Illinois Outdoors

Lake Vermilion
Some crappie. Sizes better than numbers says Gary Henk at Henk’s Bait & Bite in Danville (217-443-4111). A few bass and crappie also reported at the Leisure Time strip-mine lakes.

SOUTH-CENTRAL ILLINOIS South of Interstate 72/U.S. Route 36 and North of Interstate 70

High, muddy water a problem across the area. Despite that, crappie are improving and biting better, though fish are still deep. Bass are slow but a few big fish have been taking black jigs, spinnerbaits or chatterbaits.

Beaver Dam Lake
Bass slow but crappie fishing decent in 4-5 feet of water says Gwen Gilmore of Gilmore Bait & Marine in Carlinville (217-854-8136). Crappie improving agrees Kim Eggers at Beaver Dam Bait Shop (217-854-6688), which opened Monday. Reports of a few 10-fish crappie limits. Trout also decent.

Carlinville Lake
Lake 1 is very muddy and fishing is very slow says Gwen Gilmore of Gilmore Bait & Marine in Carlinville (217-854-8136). A better bet is Lake 2, where crappie are decent, catfish are taking nightcrawlers only and bass are slow.

Charleston Side Channel Lake
Lake muddy and fishing slow outside occasional crappie says Rick Cuddy at Prairie Outfitters in Charleston (217-348-6770).

Coffeen Lake
Lake is full and water murky but catfish bite still good on stinkbait, worms says Scott Withers of Indian Grove Fish Camp, located on Coffeen Lake (217-537-3001).  Bass also good on spinners, buzzbaits, worms. Crappie spotty.

Lake Decatur
Some anglers getting limits on crappe says Joanne Lowe of Mike’s Tackle World in Decatur (217-423-0730). Plenty of bluegill biting, plus white bass and catfish. Walleye active near the dam.

Gladstone Lake
A few bluegill but crappie are still slow says Flo Seaman at Dry Dock Bait & Tackle in Gladstone (309-627-2769).

Lake Jacksonville
Fishing has slowed to a dead stop. Water is muddy says Tom Holmes at Military Surplus Outlet in Jacksonville (217-243-6161). This weekend should pick up. Entire lake opens the weekend of April 15. Lake Jacksonville Campground also opens April 15 (217-479-4646)

Lake Lou Yaeger
Weather poor and nothing to report yet says Denny’s Bait Shop in Litchfield (217-324-2628).

Lake Mattoon
Lake muddy and fishing slow outside occasional crappie says Rick Cuddy at Prairie Outfitters in Charleston (217-348-6770).

Mill Creek Lake
Bass fair on spinnerbaits and jigs despite muddy water and crappie starting but still deep says Peggy Tingley at Mill Creek Lake Park (217-889-3901). Black and blue jigs, chatterbaits and slow-rolled spinnerbaits produced decent catches of bass in tournaments last week says Rick Cuddy at Prairie Outfitters in Charleston (217-348-6770). Cuddy heard of two 6-pounders being caught.

New Gillespie Lake
Water very muddy “like chocolate milk says John “Pappy” Knowles of the Gillespie Lake Police (618-362-6363). Crappie decent but deep (15-20 feet down in holes). Despite impressive numbers of bass, a similar abundance of shad can make this a tough lake to fish.

Sangchris Lake
Crappie bite picking up on medium size minnows but anglers still waiting for warmer weather says Trevor Miller of Big Red’s Bait and Tackle in Springfield (217-820-9674). Some catfish reports on nighcrawlers.

Lake Shelbyville
For best crappie numbers try mid lake to south end says guide Ken Wilson (217-774-5756). A recent increase in water discharge rate should bring water level down. Walleye active below spillway. Margie Oliver of Marv and Kathy’s Bait & Tackle in Sullivan (217-728-4044) reports big buffalo, 15-22 pound range, being caught on small crawdad bait or silver jigs.  • For daily lake reports from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers call (217) 774-2020.

Lake Springfield
Crappie bite picking up on medium size minnows but anglers still waiting for warmer weather says Trevor Miller of Big Red’s Bait and Tackle in Springfield (217-820-9674). Some catfish reports on nighcrawlers.

Lake Taylorville
Waters muddy limiting fishing says Lindsey’s Bait & Tackle in Taylorville (217-287-7550). A few crappie being caught off points around rush. Bass slow.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS South of Interstate 70

Rain, muddy waters and flooding are still a problem most places and angler activity has been greatly limited. But fish should go soon with some warm weather and a few dry days.

Baldwin Lake
Rain main thing says Obie’s Tackle in Belleville (618-234-5638)

Carlyle Lake
Catfish excellent using bait trot lines or poles with cut shad, shad gut or night crawlers says Henkel’s Bait & Tackle (618-594-4818). Crappie good on minnows and tube jigs. Catfish fair to good in the spillway. Crappie, sauger fair.

Cedar Lake
Crappie slow with only a few caught in muddy water says Ron Reed of Cooksey’s Bait in Marion (618-993-3366).

Crab Orchard Lake
Flooding has damaged boat ramps and the marina and caused relocation of the bait shop on the lake says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Crappie fishing has been slow says Ron Reed of Cooksey’s Bait in Marion (618-993-3366).

East Fork Lake
Bass fair at this lake in Olney says Sharon Long at Long’s Tackle Box in Robinson (618-544-2709). No word yet on crappie. Water muddy.

Lake of Egypt
Lake flooded but good size and numbers of bass still being caught in shallow waters using jigs or white spinner baits says guide Todd Gessner (618-513-0520). Crappie slow.

Forbes Lake
Fishing very slow with muddy, high water says says Mike Polcyn at Mike’s Bait & Tackle Shop in Louisville (618-665-3209). A group of anglers fishing over the weekend managed one crappie. Some catfish taking nightcrawlers or cut shad.

Kinkaid Lake
Guide Al Nutty (618-694-4897) says bass are improving but currently slow-fair. They’re headed shallow and best in weed edges and laydowns. Steve Anderson of the Chicago area caught an 8-pound bass Friday on a spinnerbait in the afternoon. Catfish best bet in back creek areas using nightcrawlers and cut shad. Anglers may try stinkbait also. Crappie fair with jigs tipped with minnows best bait in 8-15 feet in brush piles. Nutty says muskie are “mystical and irritating.” Muddy waters making it tough to get muskie but twitch baits and spinnerbaits may work.

Little Grassy Lake
Bass fishing slow overall but good for the top team in last weekend’s tournament says Ron Reed of Cooksey’s Bait in Marion (618-993-3366). Winning bag was nearly 30 pounds and included a 7-pound, 15-ounce lunker. Jigs and spinnerbaits top options.

Mermet Lake
Lake being treated for curlyleaf pondweed this year and closing to anglers says Shawnee Bait & Tackle in Creal Springs (618-996-3089)

Newton Lake
Bass fishing slow, as a tournament last weekend yielded only one legal bass. No word on crappie but channel catfish good on cut shad or nightcrawlers in areas where feeder creeks empty into the lake says Mike Polcyn at Mike’s Bait & Tackle Shop in Louisville (618-665-3209).

Rend Lake
More rains this weekend may make lake surpass high level record of 413.83 says guide Todd Gessner (618-513-0520). That has prompted the Army Corps of Engineers to caution residents downstream from the dam to be aware of weather conditions and reports in terms of flooding.

Sam Dale Lake
Channel catfish good on cut shad or nightcrawlers in areas where feeder creeks empty into the lake says Mike Polcyn at Mike’s Bait & Tackle Shop in Louisville (618-665-3209).  Other species poor due to muddy water.

Sam Parr Lake
Crappie fishing still slow. Water high and muddy says Sharon Long at Long’s Tackle Box in Robinson (618-544-2709).


Plenty of water in most rivers, as rains keep dumping more moisture into creeks which are still running full in many areas. Mud has slowed bites for walleye and sauger most places and has even limited catfish action, though in places channels are biting well and walleye should pick up again soon—particularly on the Rock and Kankakee rivers. Nightcrawlers seem to be a top option for catfish.
Click here for water level information.

Des Plaines
Click here for a Des Plaines River fishing forum.

DuPage River
Click here for a DuPage River fishing forum.

Fox River
Water high but anglers managing to catch a few bass and walleye using fatheads says Tim at Batavia Bait & Tackle (630-879-1302).
Click here for a Fox River fishing forum.

Illinois Outdoors
Illinois River
• At Starved Rock, fishing had been very good for last weekend’s MWC tournament (sauger from the tournament pictured above courtesy of Jay Angel) with plenty of five-fish limits and sauger up to 4.8 pounds. But high water is slowing fishing says Darrell “Buster Culjan at Culjan’s Sporting Goods in Utica (815-667-4222). Water temperatures were at 47 degrees and water was 4-5 feet above normal at Starved Rock. Sauger and white bass still good. Sauger and walleye active up and down area, especially at the 178 and Interstate 39 bridges. White bass best found when sun gets higher penetrating water. Fishing should improve as water temps heat up. Walleye and sauger have started spawing.
•  Baitshot Bob of River Marine Bait & Tackle in Spring Valley (815-663-1000) says the river is looking good. Sauger and some whites biting on crankbaits up river around Peru flats, St. Bede and near 78 bridge. Bob reports last weekend’s MWC tournament best in couple years thanks to clear waters and patient participants. Trout season begins this weekend in Utica on the canal and the Sheffield visitor center.
• Maryann Rylko of Riverfront Bait Shop in Hennepin (815-925-7186) says high, muddy waters still making it tough to catch walleye and sauger. Rylko believes fishing should pick up with promising weekend weather reports.
• Sauger also hitting around Chillicothe on large minnows says Celeste of Wolf Hollow Archery Bait & Tackle in Chillicothe (309-274-9653). Crappie and bass biting in local strip pits and farm ponds.
• Water is up but not many anglers are out near Peoria says Tom Grider at Tom’s Riverside Bait & Tackle in Pekin (309-347-3793). Al Mittelsteadt of the Tri-County Catfish Association said that fishing is fair for channel cats on shad. Water temperatures are around 42 degrees. Overall at Saturday’s tournament 46 were caught weighing 182.2 pounds.
• Catfish, in 1-5 pound range, biting on shad guts and nightcrawlers says Tom of Tom’s Bait Shop in Beardstown (217-323-BAIT).  A few bass reports around the marina and crappie being caught in the backwaters.

Kankakee River
Water levels have been up and down but not up as much as many other rivers. Best baits for walleye have been jigs and minnows with good numbers of fish also taking jigs and nightcrawlers or rattling Rogues says Ed Mullady (815-932-7285). Northern pike best on 4- to 8-inch minnows, Mepps No. 5 spinners and spoons. Target mouths of bayous or creeks. 
• In the Momence area walleye are fair says Mullady.
• Around Aroma Park Mullady rates walleye as good from the remains of the old dam through River Road Park. Crappie are fair to good in the bayou area and around brushpiles or in quiet shoreline areas.
• Walleye are good from the Kankakee dam downstream about 1 mile. Walleye also good at the state park, where there are also reports of northern pike up to 9 pounds says Kankakee River Trading Post (815-933-9652). Mullady says smallmouth bass are also good at the park.
• Walleye reports also very good near Wilmington says Dale Bowman of Chicago’s Sun-Times.
Click here for a Kankakee River fishing forum.

Kishwaukee River
Walleye best here says Bob Rhodes at Rockford Bait (815-226-3515).

Mackinaw River
No smallmouth to report this week until water levels come down and clarity improves says guide Jonn Graham (309-399-7055)

Mississippi River
Pools 13-14:
Walleye and sauger biting by Pool 13 on ringworms, jigs and minnows says Todd Baker of Todd’s Bait & Tackle in Thomson (815-973-2378). Crappie taking waxworms and tube jigs in the backwaters of Spring Lake.
Pools 15-16:
Anglers catching sauger and a few walleye on minnows, twister tails and jigs around Sylvan Slough by the Rock Island arsenal says Margaret at Carbon Cliff Bait & Tackle (309-792-3460).
Pools 17-19
Water high and fishing slow for all but spoonbill snagging below the dams says Flo Seaman at Dry Dock Bait & Tackle in Gladstone (309-627-2769). Catfish slow and almost no word on walleye.
Pools 20-24
Water is up in Pools 20-21 but bank anglers are catching blue cats below the Keokuk dam says Dan Wiemelt at Wiemelt’s Bait Market in Quincy (217-222-4963). Locks are open and water is dirty and fast, slowing the walleye bite and halting snagging for most. Trot-liners are catching a few channel cats on minnows and crawlers. Backwaters have been good for crappie, including Long Island Lake which is now accessible by boat due to the water level.
Pools 25-27
Channel catfish have been good on nightcrawlers says Gwen Gilmore of Gilmore Bait & Marine in Carlinville (217-854-8136). River still very dirty and catfish slower below Alton says Rob Schien at Bluff City Tackle in Alton (618-465-6175). Schien says the best bet is snagging spoonbills, with fish up to 55 pounds reported. Snagging season runs through May 15.
Below Lock & Dam 27:
Missouri Department of Conservation says the river is 38 degrees, falling and dingy. Channel catfish are fair on stinkbaits and nightcrawlers; all other species slow.

Ohio River
Catfish being caught off banks using worms, nighcrawlers and minnows says Fort Massac Fish Market in Metropolis (618-524-3152).

Pecatonica River
Water still high with more rain coming this weekend says Tom Calam at Freeport Car Care Center (815-232-3337). Some sauger still biting.

Illinois Outdoors

Rock River
• The Rock River rose almost 2 feet this week due to heavy rains and messed up the bite for a short time and made several ramps inaccessable says guide Matt Jones (815-537-5506 or 815-590-1469 cell). Water is clearing and action should be better soon. Temperatures were 42-43 degrees near Prophetstown and big flathead action should start soon. Above is a picture of Les Miller of Morrison with a hefty channel catfish caught with Jones last Friday (March 28).
• Walleye have been good below the dam at Oregon says Jan Prose of TJ’s Bait/Tackle & Canoe Rental in Oregon (815-732-4516). An 11-pounder reported two weeks ago and several fish over 20 inches have come in already this week despite the rains. Hot pink and orange are good colors and Walleye Assassins are working well says Prose.
• At Dixon, walleye had been very good below the dam but have slowed some with fast, dirty water says Irene Hays at Bunny’s Bait Shop in Dixon (815-288-3812). Jeff Hawks of Dixon caught a 9-pounder on a chartreuse twister tail on March 22 and a 6-year-old caught a 4-pounder over the weekend. Channel catfish good on redworms. No word yet on smallmouth bass.

Spoon River
Catfish best on redworms says Al Hayden of Al’s Sporting Goods in Galesburg (309-342-7776).


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2 pound reel could barle get it in.I caute it on a blue fox #2 at 12:15pm

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